US national news roundup: Biden’s dilemma: What about a photo with Saudi Crown Prince MbS? ; Ties between Trump associates, activists at center of January 6 hearings this week and more

Below is a summary of briefs from US domestic news.

Biden’s dilemma: What about a photo with Saudi Crown Prince MbS?

Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia this week is a diplomatic challenge that comes with a thorny logistical question: Should the US president be photographed meeting or even shaking hands with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman? US presidential visits, even with the closest allies, are often highly choreographed affairs involving weeks of planning around seating arrangements, camera positions and how officials plan to enter rooms. to organize or avoid a handshake.

Some US students are rethinking college plans in abortion-banning states

With its excellent academic and musical programs, Oberlin College in Ohio seemed like a perfect fit for Nina Huang, a high school student from California who plays flute and piano and hopes to eventually study medicine or law. But Huang, 16, said she dropped the university from her candidate list after Ohio enacted a near-total abortion ban last month. She now plans to cast a wider net for schools in states with less restrictive laws.

Mexican president visits Washington, resurgence of migration in focus

US President Joe Biden will meet with his Mexican counterpart on Tuesday to discuss ways to stem the smuggling of Mexican migrants as arrests at the US-Mexico border hit their highest level in more than a decade, with both sides hoping to address jobs and investments. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced the meeting in Washington last month just before the US-hosted Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, which he avoided because it excluded some left-leaning Latin American countries.

US orders 3.2 million doses of Novavax COVID vaccine

The U.S. government will receive 3.2 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Novavax Inc once the vaccine is cleared by regulators, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the company announced Monday. The vaccine will be made freely available in the country after obtaining clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use and recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Smoke from Yosemite wildfires smothers national park views and air quality

A wildfire threatening some of the world’s oldest giant sequoias in California’s Yosemite National Park grew fivefold over the weekend, with smoke triggering air quality alerts across the park and obscuring the view of its famous landscapes. The blaze had burned nearly 1,600 acres (648 hectares) of woods and brush on the south end of the park on Sunday, up from 250 acres on Friday, a day after the blaze was first reported by firefighters. visitors on the Mariposa’s Washburn Trail. Grove of giant sequoias.

Biden to host White House event to celebrate gun safety law

President Joe Biden will host an event at the White House on Monday to tout the first major federal gun safety bill in three decades, which he signed into law in June. The bipartisan bill was drafted just weeks after mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo that killed more than 30 people, including 19 children at an elementary school.

Former Trump aide Steve Bannon offers to testify in US investigation into Jan. 6 riot

Donald Trump’s former close adviser Steve Bannon told the congressional panel investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol that he was ready to testify, a change of heart just days before be tried for contempt of Congress. In a letter to the committee seen by Reuters, Bannon’s lawyer, Robert Costello, wrote to say the former president would waive the claim of executive privilege that Bannon had cited by refusing to appear before the committee.

Texas grid operator urges users to conserve power despite scorching heat

The Texas power grid operator on Sunday called on state residents for the second time this year to save energy, warning of potential power outages amid forecasts of record high temperatures on Monday. The state faces a “potential shortage of reserve capacity with no available market solution,” the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said in an operating notice on its website, adding that it was issuing a energy emergency alert that informed of potential rolling blackouts.

Exclusive: US mulls possible resumption of offensive arms sales to Saudis – sources

The Biden administration is discussing the possible lifting of its ban on US offensive arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but any final decision should hinge on whether Riyadh makes progress towards ending the war in neighboring Yemen, according to four people familiar with the case. . Senior Saudi officials have urged their US counterparts to abandon a policy of selling only defensive weapons to its main Gulf partner in several meetings in Riyadh and Washington in recent months, three of the sources said ahead of the Saudi visit. President Joe Biden in the kingdom this week.

Ties between Trump associates and activists at center of January 6 hearings this week

Congressional investigators into the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol expect this week to draw links between the militant groups that participated and government officials, including possibly then-President Donald Trump. , said a member of the committee in charge of the investigation on Sunday. . “We’re going to connect the dots in these hearings between these groups and those who were trying in government circles to nullify the election,” Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

(With agency contributions.)

Jack C. Nugent